100 Favorite Dishes: Tom yum goong from Thai Flavor

No. 75: Tom yum goong from Thai Flavor

When it comes to Thai cuisine in Denver, US Thai gets all the accolades, and while they're well-deserved, the beloved Thai temple in Edgewater has formidable -- and fierce -- competition, namely from Thai Flavor, a florescent-lit, brightly hued storefront anchored in a weathered Aurora mini-mall. The board is a listage of all the basic Thai dishes that we're familiar with, but with a few marked differences: Owner and chef Surin Thanon makes her curry pastes from scratch and the chiles -- intensely hot little suckers -- are grown in her own garden, and sometimes in the restaurant, during chile season.

Her food has a pronounced freshness, and her flavors are pungent and pure, in everything from the curries to her soups, including the tom yum goong, a bubbling cauldron of steam and fragrance that permeates the air with its fresh lemongrass and lime leaves. Stocked with shrimp, straw mushrooms, pulpy tomatoes and onions, it's a flavor blast that's both profoundly sour and wickedly hot, thanks to the dried chiles that float menacingly across the surface. Thanon doesn't shy away from searing her dishes with heat, and while you'll be breathing the kind of fire that numbs your lips and shocks your senses, it's a brilliant walk on the wild side.

Hungry for more? All the dishes in our countdown are linked below:

No. 100: Italian wedding soup from the Squeaky Bean No. 99: American Classic Burger (and fries) from Tarbell's No. 98: E's clam linguini from Mangiamo Pronto No. 97: Queso a la plancha taco from the Pinche Tacos wagon No. 96: Prosciutto-wrapped jalapeño poppers from Tony's Market No. 95: Fried chicken from the Pinyon No. 94: Seafood soup from Farro No. 93: Posole from The Porker No. 92: Breakfast Burrito from the Taco Wagon in Lafayette No. 91: Hummus from Shish Kabob Grill No. 90: Albondigas meatballs from Solera No. 89: Lemon-ricotta doughnuts from Olivéa No. 88: Döner kabob from Shondiz No. 87: Roasted cauliflower salad from Euclid Hall No. 86: Beef cheek enchiladas from El Diablo No. 85: Fried Brussels sprouts from Panzano No. 84: Pork osso buco from Osteria Marco No. 83: Cazuela Colombiana from Cafe Brazil No. 82: Chicken potpie from Devil's Food No. 81: Sichuan braised beef noodle soup from Zoe Ma Ma No. 80: Larb nua from Taste of Thailand No. 79: Pork shank from Argyll No. 78: Truffo panino from Shangri-La Cafe No. 77: Pig-snout tacos from Guadalajara Authentic Mexican Buffet No. 76: Speck and maple ice cream from Pizzeria Basta In late 2009, we embarked on a culinary journey that took us through our favorite dishes in the Mile High City -- one hundred, to be exact -- as a precursor to the Best of Denver 2010 issue. Now we're back with round two, counting down (in no particular order) a hundred more of our favorite Denver dishes in a list that, by our imperfect calculations, should be wrapped up by the time the Best of Denver 2011 hits the streets on March 31. In the meantime, if there's a dish you think we need to try, tell us about it in the comments section below, or shoot us an e-mail at lori.midson@westword.com.

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